Haass: In Pakistan, Radicalism Is 'Spreading'
Council on Foreign Relations
Interviewee: Richard N. Haass, President, Council on Foreign Relations
Interviewer: Bernard Gwertzman, Consulting Editor
October 19, 2007
CFR President Richard N. Haass, an expert on Middle East and South Asian affairs, after a recent trip to Pakistan, says there is a good chance for considerable political change in that country, although the army will remain a major force. He cautions, however, that Pakistan faces dual challenges of building political legitimacy and fighting extremism, either of which “would be a lot to take on. But taking them both on at once is quite demanding and then some.” He also warns that extremists are beginning to spread out from the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region to Pakistan's urban areas.
You’ve just come back from a brief trip to Pakistan, where you talked to many of the top leaders including President Pervez Musharraf. What’s the overall situation as Pakistan heads into a very busy political season, with Musharraf’s reelection still to be approved by the Supreme Court, and parliamentary elections due in January?
They are heading into a busy season, but not just politically. The realities in Pakistan are that the government is trying to deal with a deep and broad challenge to its authority from various radical and extremist groups. At the same time the government is trying to build its own legitimacy and bring about a political transition from what has been largely military rule to something more civilian in character. Either one of these challenges, dealing with the extremism and violence, or dealing with a political transition, would be a lot to take on. But taking them both on at once is quite demanding and then some.
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Copyright 2007 by the Council on Foreign Relations. This material is republished on GlobalSecurity.org with specific permission from the cfr.org. Reprint and republication queries for this article should be directed to cfr.org.
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